Kibungan sayote now branded

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Trying to meet market demand for quality vegetables, Kibungan farmers now pack sayote in a specially printed plastic bag to protect both farmers and traders with the Aug. 5 launching of the “branded sayote.”

The new packaging system will ensure quality, guarantee exact weight and product classification, according to Kibungan Mayor Benito Siadto during the launching ceremonies at the National Training Center of the Benguet State University (BSU) here.

Green gold

According to Siadto 70% of the total sayote production in the Cordillera comes from Kibungan. The town’s daily harvest is around 20 tons of sayote, often tagged as green gold. Packed in 25-kilo bags, the sayote commands as much as P14 per kilo or P350 per bag.

“There are times when the product could go as high as P18 per kilo or P450 per bag at the La Trinidad trading post,” said Felix Tiwtiwa, the local government focal person for sayote production.

According Tiwtiwa, roughly 300 hectares of the town’s 900-hectare agricultural lands are planted with sayote with an average harvest of 1,000 kilos per hectare per harvest. He said farmers harvest at least once a week. Peak of harvest is during May, June and July.

Grown abundantly in barangays Sagpat, Poblacion, Lubo, Palina and some parts of Madaymen, sayote made Kibungan among major producers in Benguet. Siadto said, almost all of the seven barangays produce sayote, with only Madaymen producing a variety of temperate vegetables.

Other Benguet towns Atok, Kapangan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Tuba, Tublay and Sablan also produce commercial quantities of sayote.

Increasing demand

Benito Hipolito, president of Benguet Truckers and Traders Association, said since the classification and repackaging of the Kibungan sayote two weeks ago, orders increased from 50 bags per day to 150 bags per day.

“Pag nagtagumpay ang proyektong ito sa sayote, susunod na rin ang ibang produkto,” (If this project with sayote succeeds, other products will follow suit) Hipolito said, referring to vegetable produce as cabbages, potatoes and other temperate vegetables which Benguet produces.

According to Jonathan Tercero of the La Trinidad trading post Bagsakan Association, some consumers, especially big supermarkets and food chains demand quality products. “They are quite strict with sizes and physical appearance of vegetables,” he told Kibungan producers. He encouraged them to adhere to quality standards to continue to meet market demands.

Government support

The packaging project is funded by the local government unit of Kibungan, which released an initial P300,000 for the purchase and distribution of specially marked plastic bags and weighing scales to 70 clustered communities of sayote growers. Seminars for farmers were also conducted as part of the post-harvest product development.

Earlier, Siadto created the local Sayote Task Force.

The ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between local officials of both La Trinidad and Kibungan, the farmer’s group and the traders is among the highlights of the launch.

Municipal Agriculture Officer Rennete Mayamnes said the agriculture profiling project of the town is presently being collated to determine baseline data for all types of crops, including sayote. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorthernDispatch)

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